photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “photography

Dean’s List!

I’m in a ridiculously good mood: I just found out that I made the Dean’s List again this semester. SO stoked. In the past, I wanted to make the Dean’s List solely for bragging rights (I can admit to that), but now, I have to make the Dean’s List or there’s no going forward. When I begin working on my Master’s degree- just around the corner- there’ll be no such thing as “making a C”. If you receive a C in psychology at the Master’s level, you’re automatically expelled from the program. Yep; anything less than a B- and you’re considered a failure. So, I set the bar really high for myself every semester because I have to. But my semester’s finally over, and I have until July 7th to relax and enjoy my summer (and work on my photography & art). It’s OVER! 🙂

Digitally rendered watercolour on washi paper/ Bernheim Forest- Clermont, Kentucky
Bejeweledwashipaper


To All of You

…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!

And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.

Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂

PortabellasMJ


Bounty

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Helios film lens 44-2/Josh holding mulberries


Bimonthly Selfie

ImageSelfie-Shot in kitchen window lighting/1.17.14- Helios 44-2 film lens/Digital Rebel/manual

Lighting is your friend, ladies!
Seeing how I’ve been getting all this extra attention lately, I thought it a good time to make a post about how to take a good selfie (technically speaking). Anybody that knows me truly knows that:

a.) I don’t take myself too seriously. Ever.
b.) I look 20 years younger than I actually am, thanks to Photoshop. (I’m 44.)
c.) I don’t shave my legs and I really don’t care. (But that’s beside the point.)

Normally, I stay oblivious to my “audience” and rarely write for others. Not that I have anything against that, I’m particularly too lazy to keep up with all of the hooplah and riffraff. But tonight, I decided to address selfies and lighting and that sort of thing, because, who doesn’t have a few bad selfies lying around? (I have hundreds.) Not that I’m a narcissist, I’m a photographer: there’s a difference. (Not really.) But if you have a guy-friend that pilfers through your hard drive like I used to do with my ex’s, then you can just tell him “you’re a photographer” and he won’t think twice about it.

I have a bit of a cheap wine hangunder at the moment, so I’ll keep this list short and sweet. I know there are all sorts of one-click filters out there to make you look all selfielicious and everything, but if you stick to these pointers, I promise you, you’ll cut a few corners, save time, and look a heck of a lot better.

  • Go into the light!
    Find a “window light” source. It doesn’t have to be fancy; everything I do is cheap and at a fraction of the cost that others spend. Natural window lighting is the best light in the world for selfies- I promise! Don’t use midday lighting: it’s harsh and will either blast your pupils, simulating an unflattering meth-addiction, or it’ll highlight your shadows and age you instead. (You don’t want that.) The best time for good-selfie lighting is early morning to midday (just before noon), and late afternoon to early evening. Also, apart from professional and expensive lighting, nothing puts beautiful catchlights in your eyes like a window. (See pic above.)
  • Embrace your flaws
    As you can see in my selfie, I’m make-up free and alright with showing a few lines and pores. It’s naturalGuys want to sleep with Barbie but they really don’t want to take her to lunch. Don’t be a Barbie.
  • Look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass
    This is my go-to look that works for most pictures. It’s alright to smile! But this is always good to fall back on and believe me, you’re going to need to fall back on this at some point.
  • Stretch your face muscles before a shoot. Mimic the word “WOW” in excess, raising your eyebrows simultaneously; it’s a little weird at first, but it loosens up the expression and circulates the blood. Do this about 50 times, and really, it’s good do get in the habit of doing this daily because it tightens up the facial muscles. (I’ve done it for years.) After you’re finished, your face will relax into a “default” comfortable expression. If that doesn’t work, look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass.
  • Keep the camera slightly above your head, point your chin down a hair, and lock your eyes into place.
    There’s nothing worse that enlarged nostrils, double chins, and bad angles. Keeping the camera above your head slightly (preferably at 3/4ths of an angle) will flatter your angles.

There you have it.
You’re welcome!


Conjecture

I’ve decided that I need a vacation. I’m considering:

  • Turkey (Cappadocia, in particular: the “Land of Fairy Chimneys” and Star Wars-like lunar landscapes)
  • Morocco (Marrakesh & Casablanca- and a desert trek on camel’s back to stay in a smelly tent with indigenous desert tribes in the Sahara- Heaven!)
  • Puerto Rico, AKA “Zombie Island” (due to a startling rise in the number of krokodil recipients). Krokodil is a flesh-eating drug that drug abusers shoot up: they then wander around the island in a semi-comatose trance (or, fully-induced) and do things like stumble into traffic begging for change, or, shove their intestines back into their abdominal cavities as they wander off in search of more of the drug; I’ve seen both in documentaries.

I’ve told a select few that I’m considering Puerto Rico, as I’ve researched the place for years and is in large part why I’ve studied Spanish for the past year; they think I’ve completely lost it because I want to venture off to a place that’s loaded with drug addicts. Hello…the town I live in is loaded with drug addicts who are multiplying rapidly due to the pill mill on the main strip! People stumble around in their pj’s here- doped up- glazed look in their eyes, robbing the Dollar Tree. How high do you have to be to rob the Dollar Tree? I’ve spent my whole life in this area: I’m used to drug addicts.

And really, after dealing with these people all the time, I could use a break- switch up the drug addicts for a change.

Also though, I’m drawn to the El Yunque Rain Forest located near white-sanded Luquillo Beach. I’ve spoken with a woman who owns chalets there in the rain forest: 15 minutes down a jungle path leads you to a waterfall that you can swim in. There’s a hammock on the chalet deck which allows one to relax while listening to the Coqui frogs that fill the night air with their croaks and stories of all the others who were ever there on the deck, sipping a chilled Corona. I want to hear them.

I told my daughter once: “We have $1,000. Pick a city. Wherever you choose- we’re going.” She chose New York City, New York. (I wasn’t expecting that one!) But, I made arrangements and booked the Crowne Plaza on Broadway of Times Square/Manhattan (with wrap-around views of NYC- amazing…) and we drove right into that mug like we owned the place: fresh from Podunk, Indiana! The New Jersey Turnpike threw us off for a minute, but we regained our bearings quickly and found our hotel without (major) incident. It was cold freezing, but we dined on Broadway, toured Times Square at night, and sampled the broad spectrum of ethnic cuisines that New York City is known for.

Apart from having her camera pick-pocketed during a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), we I had the time of our lives my life and was able to shoot Times Square at night: a dream-come-true for a photographer.

So yes, I can feel it in my bones that I’m getting ready to jump ship and fly somewhere halfway around the world. I have to scrub the disease of 2013 off my skin and out of my hair…

I’m going to have to squeeze my vacation into my next semester somehow. My spring semester and work on my 2nd degree (A.S. in Social Work) begins January 13. My four new classes are:

Biology: Connections and Impacts
Elements of Economics
Intro to Social Work
Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Let’s get this party started!

Museum of Modern Art- NYC/Man in hallways- stairs
Sigma 17-70/Canon Rebel

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View from Crowne Plaza Hotel- overlooking Broadway in Times Square/Manhattan/NYC
[Sitting on business desk- Indian style/Sigma 17-70- Canon Rebel]

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Turkey Bones

Turkey Bones

White clean
Two lovers
Eternally embraced

Lying together
On their mirrored bed of hot silver
Goblets of wine at their feet
They have waited
For their annual feast

Conjoined twins
Twisted at birth
Cartilaged duo
Greedy hands cannot wait
To rip you apart

Destroy and sever you
Ugly dry bones that are good for nothing
But picking at the teeth of an angry fat man

And in the end
You’ve made his dreams come true

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Flatline

I woke up this morning to a sink full of pee. Also, there are two rolls of toilet paper missing. I scroll through my mental rolodex of people, friends, animals, and other beings who have been in this place for the past 24 hours. What could this mean?

It’s kind of like the game Clue, except the wrench or gun has been replaced with a sink of pee. Josh thinks our dog did it. He does sometimes climb up on the counter (over the sink) and tear into the trash. Yes, yes, perhaps. Could he have peed in the sink? It’s possible. But the two rolls of toilet paper. How could they have simply vanished? No traces of their whereabouts. 

These are things that I can ponder over the next twelve days without the internet. I’ve been stashing game and entertainment folders like a hoarder preparing for the apocalypse. Twelve days without the internet! That’s a lifetime. I’ve been chained to this bed and laptop for days- knocking out assignment after assignment. Criminology final- check. Cultural essay (with MLA citations) in Spanish II- check. Five remaining assignments in Lifetime Fitness and Wellness- check. I’ve knocked back 4 classes (and my finals) a month early in preparation for the internet crash. I remember taking pictures outside…and shadows! I like shadows! Two more days of school madness and it’s over. I’m hobbling through the finish line but dang it, I made it.

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I’ll be back with stories of my graduation. Until then, farewell all!
♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻


Rejected: Get Used to it, Kid!

So I just received my second rejection. The first was from the Beliot Poetry Journal  (which was really sweet of the editor to tell me that although they were going to pass on my “self-confessional PSYCH ward poetic experience” he’s glad I’ve survived all of the things I’ve been through- haha…love that) and the second was from The New Yorker- a different poem entirely.

I won’t lie. The first one stung. Like a bee. Right in the head. (Obviously, it hit the ego more than the heart, but at least I’m aware of this.) What, I have an ego? YES. I frikking have an ego! Guh…it gets old. I’m fairly certain any artist, musician, or writer knows damn well what I’m talking about. There’s a fine line between wanting to share your art and wanting to feed your ego: this is the truth and it’s how it is. As artists, we like to dress things up like that old beast just doesn’t exist and we simply “are driven to create!” but what drives us? If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that at least sometimes, it’s the ego. If we’re in denial, we’ll say, “it’s just something I feel I have to do!” (Etc.)

So, there’s always that battle: self vs. art vs. self and striving to be more than simply wanting to get that little stroke that pushes you to your next piece. This is what I’m always thinking of when I submit new art somewhere: what am I searching for? Simply sharing this piece? What is my message? Am I imparting enough of myself in this piece so that people can feel it? I need to be saying something. Yes, the “praise” and the feedback come with the territory- that does feel like a warm, squishy blanket of “acceptance”- sure it does, but I want to know that I’m making an impression on somebody and adding something- no matter how small- to their lives, or the way they think, see, and feel.

Which brings me back to rejection. As in, “rejected by editors”. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but I’m celebrating being rejected. Yes, I’m serious! I was rejected from the New Yorker,-come on…it’s The New Yorker for crying out loud. Being rejected from The New Yorker is a rite of passage. While the first rejection stung (get over yourself, kid!) I was completely elated by the 2nd one. Tickled. Serious tickled, because although I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (poems, songs, short stories, etc.) and have never had any education there at all- even having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade- I’m still acutely aware of my own ignorance as a writer, and, a poet. By claiming total ignorance, I can open my eyes and mind and have the necessary depth to fill in with an education in Creative Writing. Because I’m going into this saying “I know nothing”, I can learn so much more. Ego deflated!

I’ve created a Poem folder on my laptop, and also, a “Rejection” folder. It’s the rejection folder that will drive me in my art and work far more than any other. It’s proof that I have tried and do try and will not stop trying. I’m copying and pasting every rejection into that folder (dated, filed away).

Failure is nothing more than proof that you have tried. 

I also entered my first short story competition last night- the top prize is $3,000. That one is going to hurt. Ha. But, it’s being slapped down in life that I have turned into an art form, so, the more rejections I receive (and there will be plenty); the more food for more art. It’s a self-sustaining cycle but one that holds valuable lessons for me, and I cherish them dearly.

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High Notes

I’m headed out into the rain for an impromptu photo shoot. I’ll be going to Bernheim Forest- beautiful place. I’m not satisfied with the shadows vs. highlights in my pics- I think I need to drop my AP and increase my ISO- I want heavy blacks. Yeah, these are the things that I ponder much of the time. :0) 

I received a super special email from my Health Psychology instructor; it made me cry. It said:

For assignment three; 
Your work continues to be excellent.  Your answers to each item were complete, supported, reasonable, and demonstrated understanding of the key concepts.  It appears your absorption of the health related information will not only help you but, as an example and source of information, those whom you affect personally and/or in your career.  It is a pleasure to have such a capable student.

 

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Homeless man wanders off with Josh’s change, and his booze.
Louisville, KY- 50 MM/natural lighting/manual

 


Early Morning Speakeasy

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“Third Base” biker bar- early Sunday morning drive-by/50 MM natural lighting/manual

There’s something about typing late at night that’s so very gratifying. Maybe it’s the “me time”, I don’t know. Josh is sitting beside me and everything in life has fallen back into place. It’s funny how that goes; all of the “normal everyday things” that one simply expects to be there over time are there, and they’re very small things not even worth mentioning. But take those little “connectors” away- those small unmentionables and it shakes the very foundation of all that is solid in your life. This proves to me that it IS the little things that are most important to me. When they’re gone- everything changes down to the very way you perceive the world to be. When Josh and I are tight, as we are now- the world is “doable”. I’m careful to give him his space and am even suggesting he get a shed so he can have a bit of a man-cave going on. (Guys need a “safe place” to go where there are no women. It’s funny to think about, but it’s so very true. I support him in those endeavors fully.)

The construction trailer outside didn’t work out so well. The new management approached us and gave us a 2 hour warning to move it or lose it. They had already called the police and a tow truck. We were in a bit of a jam, but that’s when I’m at my best, not surprisingly. Maybe it’s all of those McGuyver episodes (or the hundreds of adventure games I’ve played over the years) but I like to get creative and resourceful with practically nothing. We called the Uhaul facility- they had no trucks with a hitch at the moment. After several other phone calls, we were able to find a guy that hauled it away to storage at the drop of a dime. Josh would have lost his trailer for good- it would have just been too expensive to try and retrieve it. Darn it. That means he’ll have to actually stay INSIDE here with me. (I’ll try to not be disappointed.)

I wonder what Josh thinks about me sitting here typing all of our business to the world. 🙂 He’s a good sport.

We have to be up at 8 in the morning- there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Josh is getting ready to start his semester also- I love it when we’re both in school at the same time. He’s working on General Studies for now but he’s considering moving in the direction of Physics. (He and his sister are both terribly smart.)

I have a Health Psychology assignment to do first thing when I get up and after that, a Public Speaking assignment + 25 more pre-calculus problems and that’s all before 10:00 a.m.! Life is a blur.

But at least I’m using exclamation points again so hey- it’s not all bad.

🙂

And smiley faces.

xo


Deeply

Love breaks through…
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I can hardly believe the dramatic changes that have happened to me since I last posted. Doggy Daddy Josh made good on his repayment, and I’ve been able to pay (almost) everything off so that we’re at least back up to “barely struggling”. The stress is rolling away.

My oldest daughter returned to Bloomington- her visit was literally life-changing for me. She taught me how to meditate! I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to put such an easy practice into practice, but we had some down time at the Ohio River among the driftwood and sandy beach area. I took my school books with me (and actually read that day) but I decided to try the meditation then. I sat down in a sandy area- munchies, purse, and all of my necessities surrounding me- and sat straight up in Indian style, closed my eyes, purposefully oxidizing and forcing the air in and out through methodical, slow breathing, and pushed everything out of my mind. It’s not the same thing as burying it. I know that we (as people) have the power and ability to accept messages, both positive and negative (also known as encoding); therefore I know that we have the same ability to release them. So that is what I did.

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J and I have made peace with each other completely and really fought for our friendship. Over the years, our relationships with each other have swelled and shrunk and swelled (and shrunk) again from new acquaintances, to very good friends, to fiancés, back to very good friends, distant friends, best friends, “life partners” sharing an existence and cohabitating, distant friends again, best friends again- we have learned to transmutate in and out of each other and morph into and apart from each other quickly, like water. Through it all, we’ve remained friends. I will never have eyes for anybody else, and if it were to happen, a house would have to fall on me.

That said, I’m very much enjoying my newly liberated status, and my space! I’m fiercely private (and have never even been on Skype, although several of my friends are putting serious heat on me in that area from across the pond) but I don’t get much down time these days, and when I do- I write and sing songs.

God has poured no less than 12 new songs into me over the past two months. It’s always been that way with me: the darker my days, the better and more frequent my songs. And, it’s not uncommon for us artists to bleed out our pain and sorrows. It makes for bubblier personalities! But it’s my way.

I want so much to just work on a CD; all original material- my songs in Drop D (acoustic/electric guitar and the piano) but I absolutely must power through and finish up my degree in Behavioral Sciences first. I remember what Sharon Osbourne said on TV once. She was advising a group of women to harness their attention, energy, and focus on one thing, and to devote their drive toward that one thing. Otherwise, she would be all over the place and perhaps spread herself out too thin. I think on that always.

But still, I have a scream in me- my new songs are coming out of my ears! I’ve recorded small bursts of HD video when a new song hits me and file it away. I have about 15, although I’ve written around 50 over the past 7 years or so. I’ll pull them up after the semester’s over and select only one to lay down on a 4 track and then polish it up. (And so on and so forth.)

Josh asked me if I’d like to work on a CD together: I’m down with that. 🙂
I love that man and I can’t deny it. Still, I’m learning to approach my environment and stressful situations from a scientific perspective, rather than an emotional one. This is something I’m learning to do through my studies. It’s alright to shut everything down emotionally- temporarily– and navigate through those ferocious waters, as long as they’re dissected and processed afterwards when it’s “safe” to do so. Even if it’s days later, that’s ok, as long as it gets done.

My daughter, Heidi, shared something with me several years ago that was again life-changing for me. She told me that we don’t always have the necessary tools to go back through our pasts and dig up “old bones” as it were. We might dig up years worth of buried things and not be able to reassemble them, she said. I never forgot that. She has helped me so very much, and I do have to give Brian and Brianna much credit too. Brian Bob has come to me over the years with wisdom beyond his own years, and poured his healing balm over my heart. Brianna has shot me between the eyes with a poker face with hard truths that I’ve needed to hear- that girl can really let you have it! But still respectfully. Heidi is the “light bringer” of sorts. I’m so grateful and humbled by her endless search for truth and love and for sharing with me what she gathers along the way.

Heidi, exhibiting an impressive form.
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I’m convinced that I have the best kids in the world. But doesn’t every mom think that?

More good news!
I found out that all of my classes are actually open enrollment and I “accidentally” started school one month earlier than my classmates. Hence, my posting now to my blog. :0)

After paying $1,800 worth of very pregnant bills, I’ll have only $500 or so left. I have waited 27 years to buy a professional microphone so that I can record high quality songs. The same can be said for an electric stage piano, and Washburn acoustic electric guitar- I’m waiting no longer. I’ve placed an order for all of them and I am crazy with excitement! The microphone I bought (and has already shipped) is a Yeti (Blue Microphones) USB mic- silver edition. [You can click on the link to view it.] It’s a gorgeous mic! I also put an order in for this: Nady pop filter. Things are slowly coming together in the music department.

Josh is an amazing musician: his talent shines in rhythm (D&B) but especially rhythm guitar. He has a soulful, bluesy wail that hits you right in the heart when he sings. I’ll be working with him in vocal training- I’ve been a singer since I was 6 perhaps? “Perfect pitch” they call it, but these days I am so very rusty. Singing comes naturally for Heidi and me- we don’t have to try hard- it just flows out of us, but she truly takes it to a whole ‘nother level. The girl is phenomenal.

I’ll be broke again before I know it, but heck- the bills are paid (mostly) and my car has gas in it. I can’t complain.

There’s a dove serenading me outside of my window. It sings for me every morning. I think maybe I’m just eavesdropping. I received this email this morning; it put a big smile on my face:

Dear Birgitta,
I love your Hallelujah song on Divine Office…What beautiful melody, voice, lyrics!  
Please send me the mp3 so I may share with my women’s bible study.

Thank you and God bless,
[Name omitted for confidentiality]

Oh- oh…and more good news!
I donated a copy of my children’s book Peanut Butter Soup to my local library. My friend who works there is putting it into circulation. But also, upon donating it, she invited me to join her book club in which she features local authors. I was delighted and happy to accept.

I cherish my dark hours because they bring me closer to God. But I absolutely love bathing in the Light. Today I am deeply grateful and deeply happy.


Beauty for Ashes

I am so very grateful today, for amazing friends (and foes alike) who have dropped me to my knees in prayer in gratitude (and agony), breathing encouraging words into me through emails, chats, and such. I can’t express my gratitude properly, but I feel new life and new love springing out of my heart today, and I can’t believe how fast it’s happened.

To everyone who’s walked me through the broken glass in the past few days, and whispered truth and love (and shared your own stories of betrayal, heartache, and ultimately, forgiveness and love- regardless), please accept my collective THANK YOU. I love you guys, and although I’ve been emotionally devastated recently, every email and talk has been another stitch in my bloody heart. I’ve made it through the storm, and I can see the shine on the horizon. :0)

I know it’s not much, but I often say “thank you” and “I love you” with photos and art. I saw this peculiar string tied around a tree in the forest the other day. I don’t know the story behind it, but it made me smile, and strangely, filled me up with joy.

Thanks again, everyone.
I love you guys.
xo

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Stress Level: Blowing Gaskets

Today has been an unusually stressful day. I’ve been working on my new art site, which I won’t reveal until it’s completely finished. It’s definitely in its embryonic stages. I have so much school work to catch up on and we’re financially strapped, as usual. Some of my photography art acquaintances have Donate to PayPal tabs up on their sites and many are actually receiving donations. I can’t bring myself to do that. I will work hard to sell my art work instead; that means pounding the virtual pavement and hobnobbing with the elite in the art world. Nothing to complain about, I assure you. But work is work, and I’m so limited on time these days. To put it simply, school is eating me up alive. Research, essays, and reports: my head feels like it’s in a pressure cooker, or an olive that is being slowly squeezed of its precious substances. The arachnoid cyst on my brain stem is acting up again and the pain is relentless and intense, but it doesn’t slow me down- it should.

It’s snowing outside- March snow. I should be taking a Psychology exam but I’m going to pop an Ambien and call it a night. It’s 1:00 a.m.

I just needed to write something.
I should cry.

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Overbooked and Understaffed

Lately, life seems to be flying by. This is what things look like to me right now:Image  Museum of Modern Art/man studying exhibit/New York, New York
Canon Rebel XSI/Sigma 17-70/Handheld/manual focus/manual exposure

I’ve recently discovered that I’ve been grossly misplaced and put in the wrong class at my school, Vincennes University. I was signed up for Public Speaking (via advisor) and added to a course whose professor is now retired, and has been for some time. When I went to submit my assignment, I was told that one of the professor’s cohorts had taken over. When I shared this with the staff that misplaced me, I was told that the replacement class was full.

(Here we go.)

Needless to say, I straightened out the mess, and although I am now officially eight weeks behind in the new class (again, erroneously on the school’s part and at no fault of my own), I am somehow the first in my class to submit my 13 question and answer discussion on various parts of the speech and communication process. I’m not sure if that’s pretty darn impressive on my part or pretty pathetic where my classmates are concerned. Eight weeks in and not one assignment submitted to the discussion board? (I’m hoping I’ve screwed something up somewhere, but that’s not likely.)

Either way, I’m excited to be assigned a professor who is not only proficient at his job, but he’s a little tougher than most, and I love that. High-pressured, extensive assignments are what drive me. I actually asked to be moved out of a class once because the professor stated in his syllabus that a “book” wasn’t necessary in his course, and instead of using any academic references, he chopped his syllabus into six sections and asked that we use that as our “material” for the duration of the class. I reported him immediately and was told that several other students had done the same thing. I wasted no time in being moved into a more challenging class.

I’m also going to be scheduling three book readings for my children’s  book, Peanut Butter Soup, in the local tri-city area: all cities that I went to school in. Tomorrow is the actual Read Across America Day, which coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and while I would love to do the book readings then, I’m so crunched for time I’m going to have to set back the dates to the following week. I ordered three paperback copies today that are being overnighted to me. I’ll be able to sign them and contribute one book per school library. School readings aren’t the time or place to promote your book. (That’s what book signings and media taps are for.) School readings are all about connecting with the kids, planting some very important seeds, and shining the spotlight on the kids and listening to them. It’s also the time to remind yourself (if you’re an author, such as me) that you are not a rock star and it is not about you. It’s all about the kids.

I was told by one of the school’s staff at the last book reading, that she had never seen her class respond to anyone before in such a way. She said it was like therapy for the kids.  🙂 That’s the best compliment that a children’s book author can possibly receive- it was for me, anyway. They also gave me a round of free tickets to the school’s play, and a bouquet of fresh wildflowers. It was the school I went to as a child, and I was incredibly honoured to be able to go back 34 years later and share my life with those kids.

My wildflowers given to me by the school:
Image Lensbaby Composer pro-Double Glass Optics f/4/Manual exposure/manual focus/natural lighting

“Are you rich?” One of the kids asked me. (I laughed.)

“Are you?” I asked him.

“No, but you wrote a book. You’re not rich?”

“No,” I said to him, smiling. “In fact, I’ve never been rich, and barely had any money at all when I wrote this book.” I said. “You don’t have to have a lot of money to do things you want to do in life. You just have to have the desire and willpower,” I said.

By the time I left one classroom and made my way to the next one, the class had already heard that I sing too, and yes, they made me sing a song, A capella, which I did, gladly.

“Why aren’t you on American Idol?! Dang! You can sing!” One of the girls said.

“Because then I would be all rich and famous and I wouldn’t be here with you. And I’d rather be here with you.” I answered.

It wasn’t a “book reading”, it was an event. I’ve never had a better time in my life.

Tonight Josh and I are headed out of town for some much needed R&R. My mom is under the weather and I’ll be fixing her a delicious meal, finishing up a Behavioral health (model) project, enjoying some ginger & lemon tea with an unhealthy dose of pre-calculus, and cramming in some Jeopardy. (Yes, that’s how I relax…)

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Charity x 3

Today has been a pretty wild day. I’m still perturbed that Allstate wanted to give me a measly $2,100 for pretty much wrecking my life- temporarily. My conversation with the rep went something like this,

“Mrs. Lindsey, we’re able to offer you $1,700,” said the rep.

“Did you say one, or ten?”

[Rep snickers lightly]

“ONE.”

“Are you serious? Considering that I had to drop two of my classes last semester- with a doctor’s note excusing me from those two classes, had to repair my GPA-”

“Well Mrs. Lindsey, you didn’t actually have something from your doctor saying that the car accident caused you to have to drop out of school,” he said.

“Um, [rep’s name omitted for confidentiality’s sake], the doctor wrote the statement on a prescription pad. It clearly said MVA (motor vehicle accident) along with the names of the two classes right on there. Any lawyer or jury would absolutely agree that that’s legit.”

“Yeah but, we feel that it wasn’t actually the accident that made you have to quit school,” he said.

“Ok,” said I. “First of all, I didn’t ‘quit school’. I simply dropped out of my two most demanding classes due to the pain and stress caused by your client splitting my bumper. Secondly, I haven’t had to drop a class in years. Not even when my house was flooded and cracked in half a year and a half ago and my kids and I were put up in a hotel by the Red Cross. We had nowhere to go, and I had to ask my art friends in Australia for help. They pulled together $650 in an hour and a half, and we were in an apartment days later- and [rep’s name]…I was carrying four classes during that time and STILL didn’t drop any classes.” [And for the record, made all A’s and B’s.]

“Well…Mrs. Lindsey….” [insert more BS here]

I was able to talk him up to $2,100, and what a disgrace. As mentioned before, and somewhere else- you are NOT in good hands with ALLSTATE. No siree….

To the rep’s credit, he expedited things to the best of his ability and Fed Exed the check. I thought long and hard about settling for pennies practically, but, I was able to give my friend Jean (the homeless woman currently residing in an abandoned train car) $100 cash todayand a new cell phone with 750 minutes + text and internet. That in itself made it worth it to me.

I wanted to get my guitar out of the pawn shop and when I got there, I was told that I was a few days too late. The (very cool) guy behind the counter saw my disappointment and told me that he would see what he could do for me. He certainly did. He clicked around on the computer and said that it was still in the backroom, but he wasn’t able to return it. Nevertheless, he checked with his supervisor and was able, by the skin of his teeth, to pull some strings for me. (Um, no pun intended.)

A few minutes later, he came out with my beautiful, green Oscar Schmidt- acoustic electric:

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I twisted up a $20 and handed it to the (cool) counter guy.

“Man, you didn’t have to do that. Here,” I said.

“I can’t take that,” he said, making funny faces in the direction of his boss.

I shoved it under the massive day planner on the counter and said, “The world would be a better place if there were more people like you. Here. Take it.”

And smiled and walked out.
I wasted no time in giving the guitar to Josh as a gift. ♥

I also gave each of my kids $50 for some spending money. We were in a grocery store parking lot and saw a man asking for change. Naturally, he hit me up.

“Hey, weren’t you at the Haven house?” I asked, shaking his hand.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, returning the smile.

I dug through my purse and gave him the equivalency of $3.00. I can’t help thinking that he was going to go straight to the liquor store and I really didn’t care. It’s a tough world out there.

“I think I’m gonna call that guy Liquor Store Lawrence,” my son said. I have a lively bunch. 🙂 It was several hours later when we were in Louisville, Ky. (minutes from the Kentucky Derby), and we saw a man on the street who was muttering to himself. He was fairly young with tattered clothes and a shabby toboggan. My daughter saw him looking through garbage cans. It made us all very sad.

“I think I’m going to give that guy some money,” Brianna said.

And moments later, while sitting at a red light in a congested intersection, she bolted from the back seat and sprinted across the street, shoving her $50 into his hand.

“Did you give him your $20?” I asked.

“No, I gave him 50,” she said softly.

“Are you serious, Sissy?!” I asked, not so softly.

“Dude, that’s probably the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen you do,” my son said to her.

I was completely stunned. She became my hero, immediately. To top things off, she was wearing this:

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A beautiful kimono looking lingerie gown, with sneakers. 🙂

Not that we were out looking for homeless people today, but homelessness is rampant in this area. I ponder on this Scripture: Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)

We popped into the Greyhound bus station so I could use the ladies room. I couldn’t resist the lighting:

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SP/ 50 MM 1.8 II/manual exposure/manual focus

I also couldn’t resist snapping these guys on the way out:

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50 MM/manual focus/manual exposure

You have to be sneaky to snap pics of people without them knowing it (all while focusing the lens- I can’t stand autofocus and consider it taboo). Something tells me the guy on the right knew I was taking his pic…

It just kept getting weirder as the day drew on. The wind blew fiercely and we found ourselves facing this:

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We took a detour and ended up here:

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Not only can pigs fly, but pigs fly high. Literally. Look at its bloodshot eyes…

I was able to shoot a rare pic of my son outside of a music store. He dyed his hair blue today, although you can’t see it here:

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I never in a million years thought I would be cool with my kid dying his hair blue. I guess I’m mellowing out as I’m growing older.

That’s not altogether a bad thing…


Van Gogh

A Van Gogh palette in the sky…
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F/13
1/200 sec.
manual focus/manual exposure
50 MM 1.8 II/Rebel t3i
ISO 100
2.9.13

This one’s for you, M&M. xo


Photo Therapy (part 3)

There is a heck of a lot of chaos going on behind the scenes in my family right now, and I don’t mean my immediate family (altogether), but outside of my four walls. I live an interesting life for sure. Because of my walk that I’ve walked, there are those few family members that will always want to dig up bones in my graveyard.

I say go dig your own graveyard and leave my bones alone. I’ve made peace with much of what’s happened to me in my life. Some things, caused by my own stupidity- others, caused by those who cannot let go of their pasts. Sadly, I know many people who live in their pasts. It’s true that I rarely visit mine. I have memories, sure. Good ones, and lots of them. But I don’t hang on to the things that hurt me, and I certainly don’t invite others to a bitter banquet so they can feast on my rags. I’ve given all my rags away, to people who are much worse off than me.

I really do not understand how people can think they’ve got it so bad. And if you think I haven’t lived through some wicked stuff, you can read my Bio. We all go through trauma, disease, famine, humiliation, and other facts of life, but to grovel in a pool of your own vomit, and to stay in it by choice, so that others can pity you?

Moving on. I’ve sadly had to block several of my family members (again) because they simply cannot stop hating. Hate! Hate! Hate! It blows my mind.

I blocked them because I believe you have to put the negativity out of your life. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But you don’t have to sit down and have tea with it either. I take my cue from Jesus, yet again. He was asked to come to the house of distraught parents. Their daughter had died. When He came to them, He told them that she was only sleeping. (I love that part.) They laughed him to scorn, the Bible says. Can you imagine? People wailing and grieving and seriously hurting, and then there are those who take pleasure to mock and laugh at such a time.

What did he do? He didn’t tolerate it one bit. That’s what. He tossed them out of the house, and he “shut the door”. I know when to shut my door. It may seem that I’m angry, but don’t mistake my strong stand in life for anger- I am grounded, completely, and pretty unshakable in my faith.

I have to regroup quickly when people are gnashing on me so viciously. I’m only human. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I don’t have anger and all of those other things. If you punch me in my face, I may punch you back and just say I’ll repent later. I’m still working on that “turning the other cheek” thing. 

But on that note, I do know when to walk away from people who claim this or that, but cannot stop devouring you. I do know how to shut my door- Jesus taught me that one.

When I feel these things in my life, I choose to do things that are constructive. It does no good to sit around and stew in it, and really, you have to act quickly, because rage is like a cancer. It will eat away at every cell of your soul, and it feels so good to pay them back, but you’re only hurting yourself in the end. Every arrow that flies out returns to you. Make sure you send good arrows.

I choose photography. When I go out into a scene, I compose my surroundings. Photography forces me to change the way I see the world. I have to choose a focal point. (That takes your mind off of the wrong focal point.) No matter what you’re feeling, you can go out and capture a view of the world that is altogether different than the way you feel.

Bitter people chewing on my back has been my catalyst for change many times, to do good for others. It gets me out of that dark place, and pushes me toward my art- singing, writing songs, playing my guitar/keyboard and, photography- all of which allow me to see and feel beauty. I can choose to be happy, no matter what.

And so I am. 🙂

I’m not one to toss around rose petals (like Joel Osteen, no offense to him, love him truly, but he’s happy like…….10000% of the time. Sorry Joe, my car breaks down routinely and we’re scrimping for toilet paper half the time- it’s REAL up in this household if ya know what I mean…).

And so, I take pictures. Not in spite of, but because of all of the family chaos lately, I went out and shot this sunset. I’ve never been a landscape photographer and I’ve never been fond of “sunset shots”. It’s not that they’re not beautiful, I’ve never had the necessary growth as an artist to appreciate them, that’s all. I do now.

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Who knew that the cruelty of my enemies would be the very thing to help me see beauty?
Thank you enemies.

And that is how I turn things around.


Hope

Getcha some…

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The New Toy has Arrived!

 

I’ve been shooting with a crappy 4 MP camera for so long that I’d forgotten what a DSLR was like! Although I’m sure I ordered the 60 D (quite sure of it), I received the 600D- the T3i. It’s a slight step down- very slight- and the customer service was a total nightmare (42nd street photo in New York), I’m happy with the quality of the T3i and it’s not worth the hassle to return it and haggle with the (very rude) owner. He asked how I was doing, and I let him know that I had a blazing migraine. Instead of making the call brief, he went on to tell me that he’d received three parking tickets that morning and so he too “had a migraine”. Not funny! He then went on to try and upsell everything. Pretty fricking tacky.

He told me that I’d ordered the wrong speed memory card, which I clearly hadn’t- I ordered exactly what I wanted, and he continued trying to upsell the order, saying, “Alright, but when the memory card doesn’t work…yada yada yada..” Are you serious?! He also neglected to send me a confirmation email so there was no way to dispute or confirm the exact order. Nice.

I received the camera today, and just as I imagined, the memory card worked perfectly, etc. He was a real piece of work, and I’m quite sure I’ll never order anything from him again.

Apart from all of that, I’m tickled to be shooting with an 18 MP. cam. 🙂

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Canon Rebel Xti/50 MM 1.8 II/manual/self port.

 

More photos later. I’m heading out to take this puppy for a spin!

 


New Camera on its Way

I remember last year, having to sell my whole rig to pay the rent and buy groceries.

It included:

Canon Rebel XSI
Lensbaby Composer Pro w/ Double Glass OpticsZ
Lensbaby + Sweet optic 35
(kit) 18-55 MM/75-300
50 MM 1.8 II (prime)
Lens reversal adapter/coupling ring
Rc-1 remote
camera bag
Extra batteries + charger/neck strap etc. etc.

It broke my heart to have to do that, but considering it allowed me to take care of my family through some very difficult times, I don’t regret the decision and would do it again if I had to. During all of 2012 I’ve shot with a 4 MP Canon Power shot, and for a serious “artographer” as myself, that has been difficult.

I’ve recently received the remains of my Financial Aid for school, and after paying (the school) back $1,380, my mom $500- brother $500- along with a few more chunks of hundreds here and there (bills, etc.) I had just enough left over to order another DSLR: Canon EOS 60D 18 MP. After shooting all year with a 4 MP- I cannot wait to have an actual DSLR in my hands again!

I ordered one that came with the kit (18-55 standard lens) which pretty much sucks as a lens- but, with a bit of experience and know-how (of which both I possess) you can pull off some pretty good shots with one. I’d be a fool to not order a 50 MM 1.8 II prime lens- it’s $100 brand new, which is pennies compared to other lenses, but the 50 MM makes an excellent portrait lens with considerably good bokeh. For those that may be reading this that have no idea what bokeh means, it’s a Japanese word that actually means “senile” or mentally foggy. Photographically, it translates as the super blurry parts of an image, apart from the focal point or subject, and it’s usually in the BG/background, but there is also what I call “reverse bokeh”, and that’s when you have a sharp focal point with a super-blurred FG/foreground.

Another attractive feature the 50 MM offers is that it’s a fixed focal length- there’s no zooming to be had. That means, if you want to get a close-up shot of your subject or subjects, you have to actually walk up to them. The 50 MM captures a field that equate to a 35 MM and it’s the closest thing to capturing a scene that your eye actually sees. You can’t go wrong with a 50 MM- ever- and it’s a great lens to take on trips, etc. because although it captures a subject beautifully regarding macros, it also makes an excellent landscape lens- many people don’t know that.

Here are two examples below, both taken with a 50 MM 1.8 II:

Sketch, one of the many cats we’ve owned over the years:

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The Longest Dream (Perrin Park/Indiana)

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Not too shabby for a $100 lens. Some of my favourite lenses are the Lensbaby Composer Pro (double glass ops), Sigma 17-70 (great walk around lens- it’s a wide angle on one end and a macro on the other- excellent lens), Sigma 10-20 (super wide) , and there are others, but the 50 MM prime remains at the top of any lens I’ve ever used. This lens is an absolute must have for any advanced amateur and pro, for that matter.

I should be receiving my goodies in the mail within the next week. I’ve spent the last 8 years developing my own unique style, a style that’s recognizable to most of the people who know my work, and I’m considering posting a few tutorials in the areas of layering, mastering your lighting (in camera- and in post processing) and developing a trademark style that is unique to your personal preferences. I’ve had many requests over the years but have just been so busy- hopefully I can do that sometime soon. (We’ll see.)

It’s another busy day and I’ll be filling mine with housecleaning, lots of school work and supper to cook.

Adieu…


Forgiven

 

Wow. 
So my school had penalized me for dropping my two classes (College Algebra and Public Speaking) due to the car accident that I was involved in on October the 1st. Although it wasn’t my fault, they put $1,380 back onto my balance (meaning that’s what I now owe them) as well as a transcript and registration hold. Without help, I could practically kiss college goodbye. 

But I’m a fighter and I simply refuse to go down like that. I wrote a compelling letter simultaneously to the Dean, the bursar, and the director of financial aid, begging them to help me, and asking them to not allow me to fall through the cracks of society and become a statistic of “what could have been”.  Two days later I received a letter from my adviser stating that the balance would remain, but they lifted the registration hold, allowing me to return for the spring semester. (!) I know a handful of people who have had to drop out altogether for similar holds and situations- this is nothing short of a miracle. 

So, I’ll get to return in several weeks to finish up my degree. I’m ecstatic. 🙂 
I’m not crazy about math, but I’m going to give it my best shot. This will be my fourth semester of college algebra; the first three were developmental and I didn’t receive credit, so this will be somewhat gratifying.

I have three weeks to play in the snow before the madness begins!

Let it snow…  

 [Taken today, on my snow walk.]

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Last Post of the Year (Sort of)

 

I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since I’ve started this blog. I’ve always kept a diary, since I’ve been a young girl, and so I thought, “Why not make my diary public?” It really is just that, my diary. I’m sure I could start a blog, perhaps a commercial one, and “like” everyone to death and “follow” tons of people, and, as the unspoken rules dictate, reciprocally speaking, in turn, have tons of “followers” as well. But that’s a double edged sword. Nothing wrong with it, but I don’t like to play the back-scratching game. Some people make their whole lives their blogs, and as with anything else, feel so bonded to it that they don’t know who they are without it. Much like Facebook. We all want that 15 minutes! But why? Why do we need to feel like we have to have 560 “friends” or 300 people “following” us? How many of us would be able to kill our online identities and never look back? I’m speaking from experience, as I’ve done this several times in the past. 

My first Redbubble (art/photography) site had hundreds of people who were “watching me” and after a while I actually felt responsible, like I had a new obligation to report to them or something. I grew tired of the notoriety and perhaps responsibility that goes with the territory and, without a word to anyone beforehand, wiped out my account entirely. Hundreds of pics- gone in a second- and I simply vanished. I did the same thing with my Facebook account- poof. Gone. That was over three years ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It killed my vanity immediately! I had to do some in-depth soul searching and re-prioritizing. I didn’t communicate with anybody for almost 30 days. Ironically, that was the same time I was published in Digital SLR Photography magazine. Oh the irony! I was finally published and I couldn’t even tell anybody, because I virtually murdered my online identity! Even so, it was an enlightening experience and one that has changed my views of society and social circles overall. 

I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I know that I want to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, perhaps through Photo Therapy. I’ve seen few programs on the subject and it’s virtually unheard of in my community. I would like to develop a program that teaches children/teens/disabled/disadvantaged people how to express themselves through photography. To tell a story

For me, taking pictures allows me to control my environment, instead of my environment controlling me. I can change the scene and manipulate my perspectives and make the sun dance in any direction I want- it’s really quite empowering! I would like to help kids, in particular, to tap into the rich stream of art within themselves, and to be able to express their angst, joy, hatred, love, laughter- whatever it may be- through photos. 

I can see the light on the horizon. I’m not there yet. 
Maybe I’ll volunteer at the Boys and Girls club of America. 
I’m just not sure yet.

I know this: I am a poor woman. I will probably always be a poor woman. But that’s what drives me. I have a constant hunger that pushed me to go outside of myself- always- and think of others, do for others- to really try to make a difference in their lives. 

I have a message, and it is this: “Never give up. Know your value. Always believe that you were created for other people. The more you suffer in this life, the more valuable you are to others. We all take turns on the great wheel of pain. When it’s your turn- step up boldly. Remember that every drop of pain you go through can benefit another human being- somewhere…somehow.” 

When I was a child, I was given five dollars in quarters, as were all of my siblings. When nobody was around, I split up my quarters into four little, equal piles, and then I hid a pile in each of my siblings’ drawers, underneath their clothes. It was my delight to sit back secretly and wait for them to see the extra money they had. 

I never told them that I did that. 🙂 After all these years, it has been my little secret. I learned something that day; there is no better feeling in the world than to give to somebody else, and it’s all the more powerful if your pockets are empty afterwards. This, is my joy in life. 

And now I will share (with whoever may want to read this) a special story of giving, that involves a pair of grey house slippers, a homeless woman, and myself. 

Merry Christmas to whoever may be reading this, and know that God is watching over you; He sees your struggles, hears your cries, and genuinely loves you. ♥

 

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Pay it Forward

Today I was at my mother’s house. I’d popped in to collect some library books and chit chat for a moment. I was pressed for time because my classes started last week (Behavioral Sciences/Substance Abuse) and 5 classes + 2 teens is nothing to sneeze at! She asked me if I wanted the new pair of house slippers on her sofa- her neighbor had given them to her: size 10, just my size. They were gray, with gray fur trim around the edges and super soft inside. I accepted them, and with a hug and a kiss I was out the door.

I had only driven a few blocks down the road when the feelings were put on my heart to go and take the shoes to the local homeless shelter. It would have been fairly easy to go and drop them off as a donation, I’m sure somebody could have used them. But this felt more personal, and the feelings that were tugging at my heart were very clear, “Go to the parking lot- somebody will be there that can wear them.”

I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that these feelings were too strong to ignore. I had to go. The shelter used to be a church- it’s in a seedy part of town and known to be running rampant with drug addicts and alcoholics. I know the scene well- I lived there years ago. I took the back alley, keeping my eyes peeled; I didn’t see anybody at first, it looked pretty empty. As I got closer, I could see two couches out at the dumpster right at the edge of an alley. Sitting on one of the couches was a woman in her 50’s, facing the alley- backpack at her feet. There was nobody else around. She sat as still as a stone and even as I pulled up alongside her, she didn’t turn her head. I knew immediately she was the one I was meant to find.

I took the slippers and walked up to her and said, “Excuse me, I have some new, gray slippers here, would you happen to be able to wear a size 10?” (I didn’t want to come across as a total whack-job, but I knew I had to do this.) She was startled, but gratefully accepted the slippers- she wore a 9 1/2. Bingo!

We talked for a moment and she told me about her sister who’d been brutally murdered in the city next to us only a year before. She also told me about her daughter she hadn’t seen in over three years. I shared some of my own story with her along the same lines and I felt for a moment, that we were able to share an understanding of sorts, we truly had walked in each others’ shoes in life. I shared with her that I was a former resident and knew her plight all too well. I too was no stranger to losing a child. I asked her if she had a Bible- she did, a small one in her pocket. Then I asked her if she had any money. She looked frightened and I realized how my question had sounded! I explained that I didn’t want money, I wanted to give her a few dollars. At first, she was hesitant, but I knew she was embarrassed, so I made light of the situation, handing her $20.00. I told her that if I had two pennies, I would give her one, knowing that God had all things in His hands. What I give, He will make sure I get back somewhere else.

She broke out in tears and I gave her a big hug. I asked her her name and she told me it was Lucille. “Lucille, I’ll keep you in my prayers. Everything is going to get better, it really will. It’s going to take time! But it will get better,” I told her. And with that, I left.

This evening my friend stopped by. I hadn’t seen her in several months and we had tea and cake and a nice visit. I shared my earlier experience with her regarding Lucille. I had been feeling almost selfish, like I wanted to keep Lucille all to myself. It’s not every day something like that happens! It had become suddenly very precious to me, but I told her about Lucille and how God had put it upon my heart to go and look for her there.

After my friend had left, I went to my computer. (I needed to try and get an Algebra assignment in.) Sitting there by my keyboard was a twenty dollar bill. Before my friend had left, she had snuck in here and left the money on my desk. Smiling, and in shock, I sat here and shook my head, and then I laughed. I knew exactly how Lucille had felt earlier.

I love that life is so beautiful. (So hard sometimes!) But so beautiful, and our lives can be touched by total strangers…

 

***********

p.s.

I’ve written a BIO for those who want to know more about me.
(Tab at the top.)

Everything in it is incredibly true.

xo


Catch of the Day

 

 

It’s amazing how much I want to get out and shoot, and begin the creative process almost immediately now that the semester is over. I’m beginning to realize that there are two very distinct cycles that I rotate through: the “school me”, which is the stressed out, dead-line driven, insomniac who strives to get good grades and is very, very sad- and then there’s the carefree child-like “out-of-school me”, who indeed looks up at the sky and marvels- and cries, with a big grin on my face, as I did today.

I am 43 going on 19.

I don’t ever want to lose my child-like view of the world.
And I feel complete with the simplest of things.

I think I’m falling back in love with life.

And so fast!

 

I remain obsessed with monochrome,  mood, lighting, and manual exposure.

 

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The Awakening

 

School is out.
Autumn is dead.
Winter is here.

This is when I come alive. 🙂

 

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